'Lodestar' is Shannon Messenger's fifth novel in the Keeper of Lost Cities series

I can not put down Shannon Messenger's Keeper of Lost Cities series. Lodestar continues Sophie Foster's waking nightmare.

Sophie Foster thought she was human pre-teen. Sophie loved her family and her pet cat. She had no idea that in reality she was a genetically tweaked elf with super super-powers! Ever since she found out things have been off the hook bad, but somehow she perseveres. No matter how bad it gets, Sophie rises to the occasion and then it gets worse.

After nearly destroying the Ogre capitol city in the last book,Lodestar picks up with one of Sophie's best friends, and budding love interests, betraying the cause and joining with the bad guys. He claims to be doing it for Sophie, and all living creates, but his Mom was the leader of the baddies and who knows what he is really up to!

Sophie makes ridiculous decisions about who to trust and why. Much like W, she goes with her gut.

Destroying the elf school where elf kids all learn their magical powers is just a start. Torture, immolation and wanton destruction follow as Lodestar leaves Sophie with little new information and several fewer people she can trust.

More parents and parental figures lie to Sophie than die on her in book 5, so there is that.

The novels are dancing towards Sophie picking a boyfriend! This seems to be momentous and cruel as elves apparently pick only once and are immortal. Big choice for a 12 or 13-year-old being constantly flirted with by every remotely age-appropriate boy. Read the rest

The colonialism behind fantasy's vaguely Irish Elves

Motherfoclóir is a delightful podcast about language and linguistics as they relate to Ireland ("foclóir" being the Irish word for "dictionary," and thus completely unrelated to that homophonic English-language word you're surely thinking of, c'mon). While that might seem like a niche topic outside of the Emerald Isle herself, a recent episode tackled something that's surely on everyone's mind: those fantastical pointy-eared aristocrats known only as elves.

Specifically, it's a conversation with Irish writer Orla Ní Dhúill, whose blog about elves, Irishness, and colonialism gained a lot of traction among fantasy fans across the globe.

Growing up as a nerdy Irish-American kid, I always understood there to be something vaguely Gael-ish about elves. Even though I didn't know why. Even though I knew it didn't make sense. Even though I knew that Tolkien himself was not particularly fond of the Irish (the language, at least, if not the people). Was it because they used an cló gaelach, the insular font so often associated with Irish Gaelic? Even in my later adolescence, as I wasted my measly weekend job wages on Warhammer 40K, I couldn't help but notice the inherent Irishness in the names and terms of the mystical Eldar alien race who are basically space elves anyway (spoiler: it turns out the Eldar language is, in fact, mostly just bastardized lines from Irish Gaelic proverbs).

The podcast episode is full of insightful exchanges on language and colonialism between Ní Dhúill and host Peader Kavanagh. You can listen below, or on your preferred podcasting platform. Read the rest

Footage of Dobby the house-elf from Harry Potter caught on home security cam video

Vivian Gomez posted the above home security cam video to her Facebook page. She writes:

"So I woke up Sunday morning and saw this on my camera and am trying to figure out...what the heck?? First I saw the shadow walking from my front door then I saw this thing....has anyone else seen this on their cameras?? The other two cameras didn’t pick it up for some reason."

Internet commenters insist that the mysterious creature is Dobby the house-elf from Harry Potter, but following Occam's razor, the simplest explanation is that it is an extraterrestrial.

Read the rest

The original legacy of Wendy and Richard Pini's ElfQuest

In this excerpt from Dark Horse Comics's 40th Anniversary Ashcan issue of ElfQuest, available today in comic stores, Hannah Means-Shannon explains how Wendy and Richard Pini showed indies the way in an age before crowdfunding.

With $35k in surgery, man turns self into elf

Luis Padron, 25, has spent huge sums of money on cosmetic surgery in order to resemble an elf.

He has almost spent more than £25,000 on surgery including liposuction on his jaw, a nose job, full body hair removal and operations to change his eye colour. ... He is planning surgery to make his ears pointed, hair implants for a heart-shaped hairline and a limb lengthening operation to make him 6ft 5in tall.

Mr Padron fell in love with the fantasy genre during his early teenage years, while struggling with bullies who mocked him because he dyed his hair and had different dress sense.

But by the end of high school, he claimed his quirkiness led to him being admired, which further fuelled his desire to be different.

He added: 'I was bullied as a child and as an escape I would submerge myself in fantasy movies like Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story, as well as other fantasy tales.

'Over time things changed, older teens liked me because I was unique and that's what encouraged me to start turning what I felt on the inside into a reality.

From an aesthetic perspective, I think he's executing his goals unusually well, which is largely due to broadened horizons among competent surgeons. There will be more of this in future from the rich (and those willing to tolerate a lifetime of debt). But I must say his is a rather sickly and emo-looking sort of elf. It's like he set out to turn his body into an illustration rather than an embodied creature; the details require "a £4,000-a-month ritual applying creams, dyes and treatment," according to the Daily Mail. Read the rest

Iceland's powerful Elf Lobby wins fight to unearth Elfin Lady Stone buried by construction workers

Bowing to intense pressure from elves and the people who believe in them, the government of Iceland will unearth a purportedly magical “Elfin Lady Stone” buried by highway workers by mistake. The inadvertent burial of their sacred site seriously pissed off the mythical creatures, according to reports. Read the rest

Interview with Elfquest's Wendy and Richard Pini

In my spare time, when I'm not protecting wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation or guest-blogging for Animal Planet and here at Boing Boing, I'm also the co-host of a podcast called The Elfquest Show, about one of America's longest-running fantasy series, with my fellow uber-geek Ryan Browne.

I was lucky enough to sit down with series' creators Wendy and Richard Pini to record this interview for the show. We talked about the events of the latest Elfquest story arc called The Final Quest, the difference in fan reactions today versus 36 years ago when the series premiered, and a lot of other juicy tidbits.

If you're an existing Elfquest fan, or are just curious about the series, give it a listen.

Boing Boing will remember that The Final Quest story arc of this epic, long-running fantasy series launched right here a couple of years ago.

The series is now several issues in and is published both in print and digitally by Dark Horse Comics. Read the rest

Survey: many Icelanders believe in elves and ghosts

According to this report in the Iceland Review, Terry Gunnell, associate folklore professor at the University of Iceland, has surveyed Icelanders and discovered a large number who believe in elves and ghosts (and a larger number who wouldn't rule them out).

Only 13 percent of participants in the study said it is impossible that elves exist, 19 percent found it unlikely, 37 percent said elves possibly exist, 17 percent found their existence likely and eight percent definite. Five percent did not have an opinion on the existence of elves.

More admitted to believing in ghosts. Only seven percent said their existence was impossible, 16 percent unlikely, 41 percent possible, 18 percent likely and 13 percent definite. Four percent had no opinion on the existence of ghosts.

I can't locate the research (here's the researcher's website), and I'm not sure how that compares to other western societies, though I believe it to be higher than US, UK and Canadian beliefs in supernatural phenomena (apart from those incorporated into Abrahamic religions) (oh, and homeopathy).

Iceland Still Believes in Elves and Ghosts

(via Reddit) Read the rest